Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Flesh Engine Revs Up

distributed artificial intelligence, aka the swarm

Watch out Skynet, the Flesh Engine is starting to flex its wet muscles. Or should I say - watch out future, because we're about to know the shit out of you.

A swarm AI predicted the Kentucky Derby. The overall field of predictive analysis is taking strides. First there was the guy who predicted the Obama election, over at Nate Silver's 538.

His was all-algorithm though. Good algos, but not this good. As expected, it turns out that people are still better. James Surowiecki, in his book The Wisdowm of Crowds (2004), asserts that large groups of regular people are better at making decisions, and at predictions, than anything. They're better than a small group of experts, and they're better than anything an algorithm can do. As individuals, we're fallible, but as a group, we cross-cancel each other. In Surowiecki's opening example, taken from statistician Francis Galton, a large group of people were asked to guess the weight of an ox. Nobody got it right, but the average of every person's guess was the correct weight.

Surowiecki points out that the stock market predicted the culprit behind the Challenger disaster way before anyone else, because the day after the accident, the stocks in a company that made rubber O-rings went way down. Not until famed scientist Richard Feynman dropped one of those O-rings in a glass of water during a high profile testimony did the groupthinking stock market's "prediction" come true.

China has been plugging in the flesh engine for some time now.

What is the value of living, breathing humans? Stinking, thinking humans? Hopefully we will find out before it's too late, before they're all gone.

Post Script
Yahoo Finance, April 2016

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